Student Loan Nitty Gritty - Live Like a Mensch
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Live Like a Mensch

Student Loan Nitty Gritty



Pictured: My alma mater, and that place where I got my Master's degree.  (With apologies to the Buckeyes who have fonder memories than I do).

Also pictured: What $38,000 in student loans look like.


I have talked once or twice before about how badly I would like to pay off my student loan.  As I get closer to my goal, I find myself thinking about crazy schemes (like, I don't know, selling my hair...) in order to get there faster.  Nearly all of the cash that I gleaned from cleaning out my guest room was duly sent off to Mohela in the hopes that I will speed up that happy day when I will no longer have to deal with them.  And yet, I still remain a good 14 to 15 months away from my goal.  That's awfully soon in geological time, but it still feels ridiculously far away to this impatient mensch.

What I need to remember is how far I've come.  I graduated from Kenyon College in 2001 with $18,000 in student loan debt.  I was on a ten-year payback schedule, which means I would be done right now if I had not gone to OSU for my Master's of Education degree in 2006 and paid the entire tab with student loans.  As it was, I entered OSU with about $12,000 worth of debt in 2005, and left it a year later owing about 32 grand.  (I say "about" because I was loathe to look at the actual numbers at the time.)

Here I am six years later, and I have less than $8,000 to go.  Even if I were to scale back my monthly payment by half, I could still be done in three years--with a year to spare on my as-of-2006 ten-year schedule.

I know that my hurry mystifies many of the people close to me.  I only pay 4.5% on my student loan, so it's not as if I will be made poor by interest.  The "extra" money that I send to my loan could be used to bulk up my retirement savings, which are not nearly as hefty as I'd like.  I'm still four years away from the time when I would be done paying if I consistently sent the minimum from day one--even though I had to put my loans on forebearance for 10 months last year while we attempted to sell our house in Columbus.  Clearly, I don't rationally need to hurry.

But having that loan over my head is uncomfortable to me.  I hate that about half of the money I bring in through my writing is already earmarked to a bank.  I can't wait for the day when my earnings are free to be used wherever they are needed, instead of budgeted around a fixed payment.  I look forward to the feeling of freedom I will get when I know I no longer have to worry about the vagaries of the student loan industry.  And ultimately, I hate the feeling of leaving something partially done.  Once I have made my final payment, I can cross this concern off my list and move on to other things.

Even though it's not rational, I know I'm going to continue to think about and pay ahead on my student loan.  I'll continue to scheme to find more money to send away.  I want that loan dead!

And then, my college experience will become what it should be: happy memories of half-recalled lectures, and dozens of scribbled notebooks and binders I won't let my mother throw out because I "might need them someday!"


Photo of Ascension Hall at Kenyon College courtesy of Austin Godber.

Photo of Ohio Stadium at THE Ohio State University courtesy of Wallyg.



frugal_fun said:

I totally understand the urge to get rid of it. You go girl!:)

July 26, 2012 7:00 PM

haverwench said:

Makes sense to me. I feel the same way about my mortgage (also at 4.5 percent, also slowly nearing the payoff point). Putting more away for retirement might do more for my bottom line (though it might not, with the market as uncertain as it is), but I know I'll never feel completely at ease financially until that debt is gone, every penny. (Also, I too held onto my college notebooks for years, finally discarding them more than ten years after graduation. But I still have copies of all the papers I wrote on my computer, so I can reread them from time to time and marvel at all the things I used to know.)

August 7, 2012 12:25 PM

Live Like a Mensch said:

At long last, after only six months with my new Accord, we have finally sold the Mazda to a nice young

March 4, 2013 5:36 PM

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